FAQ’s

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is a great source of information on live kidney donation. 

Why are kidneys so important?  Our kidneys, a pair of organs in our abdomens, clean and filter our blood. They excrete toxins through our urine and ensure the plasma that supports our vital organs. Without adequate kidney function, we eventually die. 

Isn’t 59 (this writer’s age) pretty old to donate a kidney? The number of live kidney donors in the 50-64 age bracket is almost identical to donors in the 18-34 age bracket. See NKF data. It looks as if kidneys age well, plus, they only let you donate if you’re in good health.

Can you survive with just one kidney? Yes, as proven by tens of thousands of living kidney donors. Curiously, a small percentage of the population is born with only one kidney.

Who pays the medical costs of transplant surgery?  The health insurance of the person receiving the kidney pays all medical costs of both donor and recipient. One live kidney donor told me she never handed over her own health insurance card in the donation process.

Why do a live kidney donation if I’m registered to donate my organs when I die? Only 3 in 1,000 people die in a way that lets their organs be transplanted. Being registered is great, but unlikely to result in your kidney or other organs saving a life. 

How long does it take to recover from kidney transplant surgery? About three or four weeks.

Do you need to be related to each other to donate a kidney?  No. Most live donations are between family members, but they also happen between friends, acquaintances, and people who do not know each other..

How do you know if you’re compatible to be a donor?  Every donor must be tested and evaluated in relation to a specific person needing a kidney to determine compatibility for transplant. It’s not just about blood type, but also antigens.

Can a donor be paid for their kidney?   In the U.S. this is highly illegal. The screening team will reject a donor even if it appears they are being emotionally coerced. In some countries it is legal.  

What do live kidney donors say about the experience?  Most of them express deep satisfaction; many state they would do it over again if they could.

What if I donate a kidney and later, my remaining kidney needs to be replaced?   In most medical systems, you would go to the top of the transplant list.